Fight to keep River Tweed management local is won

Fishing on the River Tweed will continue to be managed by River Tweed Commissioners.
Fishing on the River Tweed will continue to be managed by River Tweed Commissioners.

River Tweed Commissioners have looked after the river for over 200 years and have successfully fought off proposals by the Scottish Government to centralise control.

For the past two years the Scottish Government has been consulting about a new wild fisheries management system for the whole of Scotland, which would have taken away the Tweed Commissioners’ control of interests on both the English and Scottish sides of the Tweed.

Opposing the move River Tweed Commissioners argued that the River Tweed already has a self-financing system which works well and addresses the legal and administrative requirements of cross-border fisheries management. And it seems that the Government now agrees with them.

Scotland’s Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP has now confirmed: “The Scottish Government is clear that strong local management must be at the heart of any reformed wild fisheries management system. There are lots of examples of this taking place across Scotland already, not least on the Tweed, where the fisheries play an important role in the local economy.

“Because part of the Tweed district is in England, it is covered by different legislation from the fisheries in the rest of Scotland. This will continue to be the case, so the forthcoming Bill will apply to the rest of Scotland and any changes to the management of Tweed fisheries will be covered by separate legislation made in both the Scottish and UK parliaments.

“Many Tweed stakeholders have participated in the wild fisheries review to date, which has also included important dialogue with the River Tweed Commission itself. The Scottish Government looks forward to continuing this constructive process to make sure that the Tweed can be part of the planned modernised fisheries management system in a way that appropriately reflects its unique cross-border circumstances.”

Her statement follows a meeting she had with Nick Yonge, clerk to the River Tweed Commission, Tweed chief commissioner Douglas Dobie and a contingent of officers and councillors from Scottish Borders Council on Wednesday, December 2, to discuss the Wild Fisheries Reform Bill.

“David Parker told the Minister that SBC was very satisfied with the RTC and the fisheries management that it provided for the Tweed,” said Mr Yonge.

“The Minister agreed that RTC was a good model for fisheries management, that the Tweed was a special situation and that current management was good.

“She also confirmed that the Tweed would not be part of draft legislation, due in February, which was being prepared for the rest of Scotland and that she was keen to make sure the other parts of Scotland were working properly first before considering any revision to the Tweed legislation, if that was required.

“It was a most cordial meeting led by the SBC who were very clear and supportive of River Tweed Commission.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont MSP added: “The Scottish Government’s proposals would have put at risk the international reputation of the river, which contributes £24 million to the local economy, and supports the equivalent of 500+ full-time jobs.

“I am pleased the Minister has now confirmed the current management structure of the Tweed will not be affected by this review.

“This clarification will safeguard the future of the Tweed.”